Box Office Report: Worst Weekend at the Theater Since 2008

Well I think that headline should pretty much say it all. We've been in an expected late-summer, early-fall slump for the past few weeks, but the totals this weekend took us to a new low. Among the same top films that we always look at, we've been seeing total grosses in the $80MM range. That's still low and was a noticeable dip for theater gains. But this weekend, we did it one better. Among these same positions, the total earned this weekend was a mere $51.9MM. That's less than a quarter of what "The Avengers" alone did in its first weekend. With a quick history check-up though, this probably shouldn't have been entirely surprising - over the past decade, only four times has the weekend box office dipped below the $55MM mark, and in all four of those occurrences ('12, '08, '06, '03) it was this very same weekend, the first full week of September. So at least there is some precedent for this type of thing, and clearly the time when studios take films that they know can't content and send them here to die.

Overall, as I expected might be the case (and if you can't figure from that total), no film broke the $10MM mark this weekend.

The film taking the top spot this weekend was "The Possession", in its second week. It made an estimated $9.5MM, just missing the double-digit mark. This Sam Raimi-produced horror film has now accumulated $33MM domestically, and to go along with its $5MM internationally, makes for a total of more than $38MM so far. For a film with a $14MM budget, this is a success. It's not dominating by any means, but in a season when no film is, the studio has to be happy with these results.

"Lawless" took the second spot this weekend with $6MM. I knew it wasn't going to do anything incredible after last week's paltry $10MM gross, but seeing that the film took only a 40% drop this weekend was a positive. This was the strongest hold of any film in the top five, and the second best only to "The Campaign" (38%) of films in the top fifteen. I'm unsure of the budget for "Lawless", but the film has so far amassed $23MM. This seems so low to me for a film that was so good. Unfortunately, I don't really expect any awards chatter to revolve around this film, and with hardly anyone seeing it in theaters, it seems like it will be soon forgotten. It really was a fun watch, and if you haven't seen it yet, I'd highly recommend giving it a watch.

On to the third spot, where we see our first new release this weekend, "The Words". The film ended up here with just a $5MM estimated total. I expected this film would be in the $7MM range, so I guess that isn't far off. And regardless, both are bad for a wide-release with bankable stars in its first weekend. The film does only have an estimated $6MM budget though, so there isn't much pressure for the film to produce any better than it did. The reviews have been pretty rough for the film so far, but again, as this is the black hole weekend of the annual box office, I'm not really expecting anything other than poorly-reviewed films making small amounts of money. If it can make its budget back (which it of course will), it has to be a success for the studio. I didn't end up taking this one in this weekend as I just couldn't get past all of the lackluster reviews. I'll definitely give it a watch on Blu-Ray, but I think it missed its small window for my business in theaters.

"The Expendables 2" and "The Bourne Legacy" battled for the fourth and fifth spots this weekend, pulling in $4.7MM and $4.0MM, respectively. Both of these totals actually amounted in small milestones for both of these films this weekend, too. "The Expendables 2" is in its fourth week, and just surpassed the $75MM mark domestically. It also just so happened to surpass the $100MM mark internationally, resulting in a worldwide gross of now over $177MM. The estimated budget for the film was $100MM, so it's now well in the clear of that. This was one of the most fun films I experienced all summer, so I'm glad to see that the film has done well.

"The Bourne Legacy", in its fifth weekend, hit the $100MM mark domestically with its gross this weekend. This film took a bit more to create ($125MM budget), and is definitely earning at a slower rate, but mixed with the $60MM the film has made overseas, its now into the black itself.

"The Cold Light of Day" was the only other new film in the top fifteen this weekend, pulling in $1.8MM. This movie looked pretty bad and seemingly had next to no marketing, but even less than $2MM in a wide release seems rough. I didn't assume it would put together much more, but I think the Henry Cavill team was hoping for a bit more in their promotion of our future Superman. Reviews have been completely awful though, so a bad reception was expected.

The film that was nice to see in the top fifteen was the re-release of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in IMAX. On only 267 screens, the film managed $1.7MM. That comes out to more than $6K per theater, which was by far the highest per theater total of anything else this week. This is one of my favorite films of all-time, and it hurts me that I'm nowhere near one of these screens. If you have access to one, I'd recommend making the trip and spending the extra money to check this out. It's not everyday that you get to see one of the greatest movies of all-time in one of the best formats one can take in a film.

Otherwise, no other seemingly notable tallies or milestones this weekend, so we'll just leave it at that. Check out the full rundown of all the top films below, courtesy of Box Office Mojo: